Q: Pupil of the eye as the most expansive male organ

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Jun 23 00:48:04 UTC 2006

Like Jonathan, I think I heard the eye-pupil riddle/joke in
the early 1960s, when I'm sure I heard the one about the
stick of gum, the 4-letter word ending in "k" that
means 'intercourse', and "What does a man do standing up, a
woman do sitting down, and a dog do on 3 legs?"  However, as
far as I am aware the earliest printed record of the eye-
pupil one appears in J. Barre Toelken, "The Folklore of
Academe," which is Appendix B of Jan H. Brunvand's textbook
The Study of American Folklore (NY: Norton, 1968), p. 321.

The genre--which folklorists variously term "catch riddles"
(or "catch questions"), "trick riddles" (or "trick
questions"), "pretended-obscene riddles," and "false-gestalt
riddles"--have circulated in English since the 10th century.
They were very popular in oral tradition in the 1960s and
1970s, being the raison d'etre of the infamous Turtle Club.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 15:14:56 -0700
>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>Subject: Re: Q: Pupil of the eye as the most expansive male
>I heard a form of this riddle in N.Y.C about 1964. I believe
it was, "What part of a man's body expands to X times its
size when he sees a pretty girl ?  His eyes."  A follow-up
was "What's hairy and sticks so far out of a man's pajamas at
night you could hang a hat on it ?  His head." A third in the
sequence was, "What goes in hard and comes out soft ?
>  "Honi soit...," as they say.  (Or as _Mad_ magazine once
translated it in the margin, "Honey, why did you swat Mel in
the pants ?"
>  JL
>"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>There is the riddle "What part of the male anatomy expands
the most
>between its smallest and its largest size?" (meaning
>percentage-wise: largest size divided by smallest). The
answer I
>heard was the pupil of the eye. [Yes I know the female
anatomy has
>pupils also, but saying "male" is of course designed to point
>responders in a different direction.]
>Someone elsewhere tells me "it's in the screenplay of
_Kinsey_ where
>Liam Neeson plays it with a twinkle". But I think I heard
this long
>before this movie. Can anyone cite an earlier source?

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